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Career Lessons from FanDuel's Tricia Alcamo: Lead with Empathy

Tricia Alcamo's personal challenges have shaped her empathetic leadership style as FanDuel's chief people officer.

​When Tricia Alcamo describes her employer, FanDuel Group, as “a hyper-growth company,” she isn’t exaggerating.

The spark for that growth occurred in 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a federal law that banned commercial sports betting in most states. Soon after, Flutter Entertainment, a global sports betting and gaming operator, merged with FanDuel. 

Today, the New York City-based company’s portfolio includes gaming, fantasy sports and sports betting brands. FanDuel employs roughly 3,000 people—2,500 of whom have been hired since the start of the pandemic nearly three years ago. “That stat blows my mind,” Alcamo says.

To help lead the HR function at the growing company, FanDuel hired Alcamo as its chief people officer in April 2022. “As we hit that mark of 3,000 employees, we start stepping into the territory of what a larger organization needs—the scalable and global offerings that are different for a company of this size,” Alcamo says. 

For example, Alcamo hired individuals for key senior roles the organization didn’t previously have, such as Corinne Bilerman as vice president of talent and development and Keita Young as head of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Alcamo and her team of 80 (and counting) also led the creation of more-robust programs for leadership development and employee recognition. As the company increases the number of managers among its ranks, the new leadership development program will help them become more effective and inspirational in their roles, Alcamo says. 

With the new recognition program, executives will acknowledge workers’ accomplishments across the company, and a tech platform will enable peer-to-peer recognitions and make the process less ad hoc. 

“We live the company’s principle of ‘we say thank you’ every day,” Alcamo says. “But as we’re growing, we have to come up with ways to amplify those ‘thank-yous’ across the company.”

Pushing Through Hardship

Even as FanDuel quickly hires people for technology, engineering, compliance and other positions, Alcamo maintains a leadership approach that sees and treats employees based on more than simply the roles they fill. 

“Tricia wants us to bring our whole selves to work, and she does the same,” Bilerman says.

As Alcamo puts it, “We’re all much more than our titles.”

Alcamo’s outlook has been shaped by her own life experiences. In 2014, she was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, she was a divorced mother of two kids ages 5 and 7. She underwent cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, for the subsequent 18 months. For Alcamo, it was crucial that her children witnessed her persistence and perseverance through adversity.quote1.png

“I had two young kids, and it was important that I was still working as much as I was able—that they see me wrap a scarf around my head, put on high heels and go to work,” Alcamo says. “It was a signal to them that it would be OK, that as long as Mom still put on high heels and went to work, we’d get through this.”

She also credits the support of American Express, her employer at the time: “American Express gave me the ability to craft a path through that incredibly difficult time and supported me in every way,” she says. “That shaped who I am as a leader. Empathy for people, who have much more going on than you see on the surface, is a hallmark of my leadership.”

Alcamo’s people-focused management style convinced FanDuel’s CEO Amy Howe that she had found the right person to head the company’s HR operations. 

“I was looking for a chief people officer who listens, who can work collaboratively across the organization, has real empathy for employees and, importantly, can get stuff done,” Howe says. “I saw this in Tricia during our first discussion.”

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Gaining Clarity

Alcamo developed her ability to get stuff done at an early age. Her homemaker mother and her father, a college professor and textbook author, represented the first generation in their families to attend college. 

“Both my parents came from very humble backgrounds—they grew up with very little means in the Bronx,” says Alcamo, who was raised on Long Island. 

Her parents instilled a strong work ethic in Alcamo and her two older siblings. At age 11, Alcamo took her first job delivering newspapers on her bicycle. At age 14—“the minute I could get my working papers and not work in the rain”—she got a job in a retail stockroom.

Both of Alcamo’s parents died of cancer—her mother when Alcamo was 15 and her father when she was in her 20s. For all its challenges, Alcamo’s own illness also focused her attention on going after the kind of job she wanted most.

“It gave me clarity that I think was not there before,” she says. While Alcamo rose through the ranks during her almost 14 years at American Express, ultimately becoming vice president, she yearned to head an entire human resource function.

In 2016, she left American Express and joined Spectrum Enterprise, a provider of fiber technology, as vice president and later group vice president of HR, working directly for the company’s president. 

“For the first time, I was responsible for developing and delivering the HR strategy for the business,” Alcamo says.

At Spectrum Enterprise, where she worked for close to six years before joining FanDuel, Alcamo noticed that relatively few women held senior-level roles. So she launched a program to develop female leaders that helped increase the number of female vice presidents at the company. 

Alcamo considers that program one of the top accomplishments of her HR career, which began in 1998. But she didn’t start out in HR.

Loving the Work

After earning a bachelor’s in English from Princeton University in 1996, Alcamo joined Deloitte as a management consultant. “I wanted to be in business but didn’t exactly know what that meant,” she says, “so management consulting was a perfect fit.”

Two years later, Deloitte tapped Alcamo to help with an initiative to globalize the company’s recruiting process and make it more competitive. For Alcamo, it was a defining moment. 


“I just fell in love with this work that was people-focused but also tied closely to the company’s strategic imperative,” she says.

After a few months, Alcamo returned to client-focused consulting but knew her heart was in HR. After she voiced her professional passion to a mentor at Deloitte, the organization created a recruiting-focused role for Alcamo in order to keep her with the organization.

A few years later, a mentor posed a simple question to Alcamo: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Alcamo knew the answer: chief people officer for a large company. The mentor wrote the names of four companies with strong HR reputations on a paper napkin and handed it to Alcamo. The mentor then advised her to find someone she knew at one of those companies to try and land a job.

Alcamo took that advice. She reached out to someone at American Express and joined the company in 2002, taking on an HR manager role for the first time.

Leadership Traits

As her career progressed, Alcamo gained valuable insights along the way. For one, she learned to surround herself with strong people leaders and trust them to lead their own teams. “As I began leading leaders, trusting my team to lead became more and more important,” she says. 

Bilerman has seen that firsthand. “Tricia lets her team use their expertise to figure things out and make recommendations. She’s interested in learning from the experts on her team,” she says. 

As Bilerman helped create FanDuel’s new leadership development program, she recognized and appreciated that Alcamo didn’t simply dictate a course of action—though she might have. 

“She could have said, ‘I’ve done this before; let’s do that here,’ ” says Bilerman, who has known Alcamo since 2006 when they both worked for American Express. “But she listened to our ideas and then said, ‘I’ve done something like this before, and here’s one piece that’s helpful to bring in.’ ”

Other leadership traits of Alcamo stand out among her colleagues. “Once in a while in meetings, Tricia would reference nautical terms and sailing, so I had to ask, ‘Where is all of that coming from?’ ” Howe says. “She told me she was a competitive sailor and she is teaching her kids to sail. I knew she was the right person to captain the FanDuel ship.”

Competitive sailing requires focus and stamina, Alcamo says, “and those are tied into how I operate at work.”

FanDuel will need Alcamo to help skipper not just its burgeoning employee population but also the still-evolving workplace. In 2022, FanDuel transitioned from remote work to a team-based hybrid approach in which teams decide when they come into the office to collaborate.

Alcamo predicts the where, when and how of work and collaboration will continue to evolve—whether it’s in person, virtual, synchronous, asynchronous or various hybrid models.

“We’ve only scratched the surface of what the future of work looks like,” Alcamo says. “HR has a role in leading that conversation.”    

Novid Parsi is a freelance writer based in St. Louis.