With 1:25 left to play in Super Bowl LVI, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp to give their team a three-point lead. It was one of Kupp’s two touchdown receptions, and the Rams would go on to win with Kupp as the game’s MVP.
Winning the sport’s biggest game isn’t easy. It takes focus over a long and demanding season. Putting together a winning team is even harder and more complicated. Each player on the fifty-three-man roster has his own path to the team. Kupp came by way of the NFL draft in 2017. Stafford was brought over via trade in 2021. Owner Stanley Kroenke, head coach Sean McVay, and general manager Les Snead form and execute the vision that makes it all work.
What Kroenke, McVay, and Snead do for the on-field team, Oracio Galindo does at the team’s corporate headquarters. As the Rams’ head of employee experience, Galindo is responsible for building programs, systems, and policies to attract and retain a high-performing corporate team that will help the iconic sports franchise thrive.
Galindo is a proven HR leader with a long history of driving results at large and well-known organizations. He started his career at Universal Music Group, then went on to the Los Angeles Times, Red Bull, Starbucks, Sony Music Entertainment, and Tribune Publishing. He joined the Los Angeles Rams in 2016 and has since made his diverse background an asset.
“Bringing a nontraditional perspective to sports has helped us do some innovative things in HR because I’ve been able to take the best pieces that I’ve seen from other industries and apply them in this environment,” he says.
That approach works well at the Rams due to the nature of the franchise. Galindo came to the team in 2016 just as it was relocating from St. Louis to Los Angeles, which gave him the opportunity to offer ideas, influence direction, and help grow and scale the brand in its new home.
Despite the team’s massive fan base, high revenues, and a payroll of $184.2 million, the corporate office in Agoura Hills, California, is small and nimble, with less than two hundred employees on the business side. By comparison, some of Galindo’s previous employers have topped 135,000 workers.
“We are a small organization that wants to do something special,” he says. “Flexibility is built in. We can talk about new ideas and implement them immediately. Speed to launch is very fast here.”
Galindo spent his first weeks and months learning the landscape and getting accustomed to his new industry. Although he wanted to take best practices from other teams, he didn’t want to import their systems without finding a competitive advantage.
“There’s a tendency in sports to just do what other teams do, but I didn’t come from sports and I wanted to understand what matters to us and what makes us special so I could develop specific programs that work for this specific team,” he explains.
A few key things emerged. Galindo introduced parental leave, unlimited time off, and a more robust rewards system. In doing so, he borrowed from coach McVay’s “we not me” team-centered culture. Every single Rams employee, including the most entry-level person, is eligible for a performance bonus. Galindo says this is “virtually unheard of,” but that he wanted to reflect McVay’s philosophy on the business side to make everyone feel like they are part of a winning team.
The team’s on-field success has been a boon for Galindo. Prospective employees want to work for a winning football team, and he now has more resources to be creative and impactful in Los Angeles as he and his colleagues work to grow their fan base.
“We want to be a top employer and a brand people recognize around the world,” Galindo says. They’re focusing on building the internal programs and offering external marketing and community support to turn both of those goals into realities.
In 2020, the Rams’ HR department created a diversity and inclusion counsel with two cochairs and twelve staffers from the football and business sides that come together to discuss how to elevate these issues. In May 2022, the Rams announced that it is one of eight NFL teams participating in the new NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative.
The league created the program to help students from historically Black colleges and universities pursue careers in sports medicine. Galindo is providing similar internal development opportunities. The Rams now offer unlimited on-demand, confidential, and individualized coaching through Bravely.
While a Super Bowl win is exciting, it’s made things especially busy in Agoura Hills. Galindo and other HR professionals spent the offseason recruiting, hiring, and onboarding seventy new full-time employees and making investments in marketing, outreach, and youth programs to raise their profile in and around Los Angeles. They’re also preparing to unite football and business operations under one roof to support the team as it starts the long road to Super Bowl LVII.