I'm going to talk in a public conference on "My/Our wrong decisions and consequences in a previous company, hoping people can learn from it".

Since the talk is about "Wrong decisions and consequences", it's bad for a company's reputation.

I have no intention to speak badly of my previous company. It definitely was a good workplace and I enjoyed my time there whole heartedly.

Yes I signed NDA - but also I won't disclose any trade secrets.

The company name is omitted from the talk but can be deduced from my LinkedIn and the talk's content.

  • Is this even legal?
  • How do I do this ethically?
  • Would be great if there are examples.
  • Is this your only previous job? Can you leave the details sufficiently vague and just talk about "a previous company" you worked at, or would the audience still know which company it was? Also, is the mistake public knowledge (a widely announced project was delayed/cancelled) or something that was resolved internally?
    – Llewellyn
    Sep 24, 2022 at 20:30
  • I have graduated for only around 4 years and spent 3 years in that job, which also is my most recent ex job - I only switched company 4 months ago. I had one or two other position before that (one took a year and the other about 6 months) but they weren't very applicable to the experience I'm sharing. I believe anyone could deduce it from my talk and my linkedin account. Regarding mistakes, they were wrong decisions that in the long run have led to consequences like company's website stopped functioning... The website ran again but we never realized the wrong decision.
    – Tran Triet
    Sep 25, 2022 at 5:32

2 Answers 2


I wouldn’t make it personal or factual, but a bit like a tale that combines different experiences that may be from you or other people and multiple companies.

Even if in all instances you will talk about yourself in one company, you don’t need to present it that way. I think that will make the talk easier for the audience… otherwise you risk to come across as a resentful ex-employee ranting about his previous company.

One anecdote can be of yourself, another can be of a friend on his team, another from back when you started and things were done in a different way… etc. It doesn’t need to be accurate or truthful as long as it conveys the message and the learning experience correctly.


So, you mentioned this is a Website issue - I work in IT.

"I once had a project where we were decommissioning an Old System, as part of the process, we did an Audit on the Old System - I delegated this task to one of the Juniors in my team - they presented me with the Data, I reviewed it and it looked good - I signed it off and then after some other tasks, we proceeded to Go Live.

Unfortunately, in the Audit, a particular customer segment was missing (it was partially handled in another system that only talked back to the system we were decommissioning) - and so when we went to Go Live - bad things happened, we had to roll back, I got some egg on my face (as I had signed off on it and I wasn't going to throw anyone under the bus) - we re-did the audit and addressed the issue and then re-attempted the Go Live at a later date.

The lessons to learn here are to take care when auditing data and in our case to double check all the active connections to that system were coming from where we thought they were coming from - as a result of this experience - here is the Positives steps and learnt lessons we gleaned from it..."

Do you know anything about What system it was? Or any detail as to what actually happened in that story (which is all true BTW)? No - you know the important aspects that a team made an assumption, didn't sanity check it and bad things happened and then you talk about what you learned from the experience.

Most professionals know from bitter experience that sometimes things go wrong - the way to frame it, is how you or the company learned from it.

That would be me suggestion, abstract as much of the information out of it, so only the key points of 'something went wrong' and 'here's what we learned from it' remain

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