One of my coworkers has a part-time academic/research position at a major university where they supervise PhD students and postdocs even though they do not have an advanced degree, or a degree related to the field where they are working.
Their listed credentials on their profile prominently include two groups affiliated with our company and they are listed as a 'founder' or 'co-founder/lead' on both. This is probably an embellishment of their role, which was mostly junior, but with a fair amount of administrative/coordination work. They also changed the name of one of the groups (which is internal to the company so not noticeable by someone outside it) to sound more broad than it actually is.
Technically I could see an argument for either title since the terms are kind of vague--'founder' since they were one of the members when each group was started, and 'lead' since they did some coordination work. But the overall role did not involve technical, thought, or academic leadership and this is hard to describe without revealing internal company information. I am concerned that they are passing themselves off as a thought leader in this (emerging) field, but wonder if my concern is overblown.
Is this considered 'academic dishonesty', or 'unethical'? Or is this normal for people coming from industry (as opposed to a direct academic pipeline where one is a grad student, then a postdoc, then an assistant professor, etc.)