I work as a software developer for a company in the US. We recently got a new CTO, and today he went around asking for cell phone contacts for everyone. That information is already in my file with HR, and my direct boss has it as well. Having been on the job for about 10 years, I can honestly say I've never had a CTO ask for this, nor can I think of any real reason he would be contacting me directly.

Am I obligated to give him my personal cell phone number?

  • 4
    As well as you can always chose not to answer calls if someone starts getting annoying...
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 20:06

4 Answers 4


This is pretty standard in IT and has been for decades. The only difference now is that cell phones are ubiquitous. In the past you were assigned a pager and had to carry it. When cell phones started to enter the workplace, you'd be assigned a cell phone and required to carry that.

Now, since cell phones have penetrated to near 100% of the market, it is customary to have your cell phone listed. There is nothing strange or unusual about the CTO requesting it, but refusing to give it will be a career limiting move and bad form.

Just give it to him, it's not like he's going to sell your information to telemarketers

  • 2
    It's worth mentioning that a lot of companies that gave out pagers in the past, now assign their employees company mobile phones with company phone numbers. Using personal phone numbers for business purposes can bring a few problems.
    – Mavrik
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 0:20
  • @Mavrik it varies on the position, it's rarely universal. Where I work now, only senior executives who travel overseas get assigned phones. Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 4:05
  • And that is why I used words "a lot" not "all".
    – Mavrik
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 18:22

Am I obligated to give him my personal cell phone number?

You are not obliged to give him anything (unless it is a company phone), but of course denying to give such information might not be taken too positively.

He is your CTO so it does not matter if you think there is no reason he may have to ask for such; if he is asking surely there is a good reason and it will be wise to do what he asks.

In fact, he was being polite by asking you to give such information, when as a CTO he could order you to give him that information (or take it from your file).

I doubt they will use it for obscure purposes, and in such unlikely case you can well report the incident.

  • I was just going to say - It's probably part of a disaster recovery plan to have other-than-work numbers for key staff. I don't think anything nefarious is going on. Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 22:09
  • @WesleyLong me too, I don't see anything suspicious in here
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 22:25
  • Most of the times when managers and especially C-level execs ask you for something the fact that it's an order is implied. It's rarely something truly optional. Since you bring up the CTO's reasons: why not suggest that the OP ask what their contact details are needed for?
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 20:33

HR has my phone number. If there is an emergency, HR can be contacted and reach me. Having the phone number only at HR saves the CTO of being lazy and calling me at home, in my free time, when there is no emergency. At work, there are various ways how I can be reached.

So no, the CTO doesn't get my number.

  • 1
    This is kind of my sentiment as well. I mean, my direct boss has it, but he doesn't make use of it for frivolous things. The way I see it, it's on file with HR, and if he needs to get hold of me, he should be going through my boss anyway, so that he's in the loop. Or is that last part too much?
    – PiousVenom
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 2:46

If you'd prefer not to be contacted, give him your number, "accidentally" transposing two digits. -6437 becomes -6347. You've then complied with his request, and will be seen as cooperative & affable. He may never call, if he tries, he won't reach you. If confronted about what happened, play dumb. Then you'll know for sure he did try to reach you, albeit without success, at that point you can provide your real number and obfuscate the situation as a typo in his contact list or some such. The ruse will allow you to get out of an unwanted perceived obligation (for awhile at least) without appearing uncooperative and stave him off long enough to ascertain if he intent was really to contact you outside business hours. He may just be trying to see who will be compliant with such type of request.

  • I don’t like playing games like that. If I did this, then I’d give my town code followed by 123456 to make it obvious.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 12:30

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