My company decided to skill a set of roughly 75 people in a particular technology in which I am proficient at.

I am responsible on managing money for this task, and I have been involved in other decisions of this kind in the past.

I have uploaded to a well-known site a course that is precisely on spot for what the company needs, and it has been posted BEFORE the company reached me with this need. I created it on personal time, and no one paid me to do that. The income is split between me and the portal who takes a percentage. The course is well known in the portal, and is one of the most rated, so I know it is a good choice.

I asked 3 senior developers to review the best 3 courses on the site with no names on them, and 2 came back to me saying mine was the best.

The course is cheap (15 € more or less) and in budget, and I am considering recommending this solution over other courses or a teacher that can ask way more.

I see 2 problems here:

  1. since the course is a good choice objectively, could it be a bad practice to choose it from the pool of solutions?
  2. If I go with this solution, which can bring me a good income, how can I avoid my firm asking to make the course free to people during work time?

EDIT: I think there is something that is missing here, probably because english is not my first language so maybe i phrased this bad.

Is not in my mind to choose this course and don't disclose is mine. What I wanted to ask is how to approach a POSSIBLE request to give this course away during work time and getting no income from it.

The role I have in this company has no link with the skill in the course, so I think I should'nt give that skill away for free because basically is not requested in my contract.

  • who paid you to develop the class? did you do this using any company resources? Nov 21, 2022 at 15:50
  • 2
    You should maybe ask yourself the following: "Are those 1125 € minus commision worth ruining my reputation, creating a situation that most certainly will backfire?"
    – iLuvLogix
    Nov 21, 2022 at 17:17
  • 3
    Why do you say "secretly"? Aren't they going to find out you're the one who wrote the course? Isn't it using your face? your voice? Nov 21, 2022 at 18:37
  • 4
    Why don't you just tell your company that you created this corse on that portal on your own time a long time ago ? Then, it is up to the company to decide. They may like your course on that portal and go with it. Everyone will be happy. Nov 21, 2022 at 23:21
  • 2
    In the current edit there seems to be an assumption that one can't suggest a course they write without agreeing to provide it for free. There is no such requirement. Explain what you have, explain what it costs, explain the competing courses/products and what they cost, let management pick one with full knowledge that one choice profits you but also that you may be better prepared to support it than another you didn't write. If they ask for a discount -- which is unlikely -- then you have to make a decision to make and both answers are fully defensible. Until and unless that happens, chill.
    – keshlam
    Nov 22, 2022 at 23:49

3 Answers 3


Is it bad practice to secretly choose a self-enriching solution to company problems? It absolutely is.

Two reasons. First, some people who don't trust your judgement about what is the best course would feel you did it only to make money, and you could be fired for that. But second and perhaps more relevant, you are missing the chance to be a superstar at work. Here you are, someone who knows this tech well enough to write a course on it! And not just any course, but a course that these senior developers agree is the best available! You want everyone to know this! Why would you want this to be a secret! This is a big deal for your value within the company.

Go tell your boss what your research shows. Brag a little :-) And ask if they would like you to try to arrange a special price for your company that does not include your cut, to eliminate any hint that you're benefiting directly from it financially. You can do that, because you're benefiting from it many other ways, including that all your company views will raise the popularity of the course on your platform. (Plus, there's a good chance they will say don't bother, it's only a thousand euros for full price, it's not worth the paperwork to try to get a discount.) And now everything is clear and open.

  • FYI. If you look at the comments, the "secretly" keyword was added by someone else, not the OP. In fact the OP recently edited their answer and said: "Is not in my mind to choose this course and don't disclose is mine. " Nov 23, 2022 at 22:42
  • Perhaps so, but they certainly weren't planning to front-and-centre that it's their course and take this opportunity to increase their reputation in the company as I think they should. Instead of worrying about "how can i be sure I still make money off this course I wrote" I recommend focusing on "how can I make major reputation within my employer off this course I wrote" Nov 23, 2022 at 23:21
  • "but they certainly weren't planning to front-and-centre that it's their course" I don't know where you got that from. Nov 24, 2022 at 3:06

Is it bad practice to choose a personal solution to company problems?

The course was created by me on personal time, and no one payed me to do that. The income is split between me and the portal who takes a percentage

It's very bad practice, completely inappropriate, may be against company rules, and could easily get you fired! I know if you worked for me and did this, and I found out, you would no longer be working for me.

Do not steer the company to pay you money this way, even if you (and perhaps two out of three others you asked) feel your course is the best

Either recommend something else that doesn't have this obvious conflict of interest, give the course to your coworkers for free, or disclose your financial interest to your boss first, and ask their advice.

If you are afraid to ask your boss beforehand if it's okay to do this, that should tell you all you need to know.

  • 6
    +1 I've never worked for a company that didn't have rules that required reporting conflicts of interest like this. Even if someone else was in charge of the decision that might cause an employee to sell something to the company, I think the employee would have to report the conflict of interest.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 21, 2022 at 18:21
  • 3
    I would say that the OP disclosing his financial interest is a given.
    – Peter M
    Nov 21, 2022 at 19:52
  • 2
    May also be illegal.
    – jcm
    Nov 22, 2022 at 11:54
  • @PeterM I would have thought it was a given too, but after reading the way the OP phrased their question, it sounds like they were planning to hide it. So it definitely needs emphasis.
    – Stef
    Nov 22, 2022 at 15:29
  • 2
    I edited the question a bit to give more context.
    – Anon
    Nov 22, 2022 at 16:12

There's an old Latin phrase about this:

"nemo judex in sua causa"

No one is a judge in their own Cause.

It means if you have an interest in something (75 x 15...) you cannot advocate for it.

Another phrase is that Justice must be seen to be done.

Any decision where there is a possibility of conflict of interest will be treated as suspect.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .