Smeal alumni in profile: Wall Street's 'best athlete' fuses finance and fitness

Penn State alumnus Mark Rubin was named Wall Street's best athlete after winning the Wall Street Decathlon for the second year in a row. Proceeds from the event benefited the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Credit: Wall Street DecathlonAll Rights Reserved.

Smeal alumnus Mark Rubin, 2008 finance and 2010 masters of business administration, is a familiar face to many Penn State football fans because of his years playing safety on the team. He’s pursuing a Wall Street career at Barclays now as a futures trader, but he hasn’t lost touch with his athletic roots.

At the end of July, Rubin took part in the Wall Street Decathlon, winning it for the second straight year and retaining the title of Wall Street’s best athlete. The decathlon, a charity event in support of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, requires all competitors to raise at least $2,500 to enter.

Rubin said that participating in the decathlon brought him back to his Penn State years.

“At Penn State I was involved with THON [Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon] and Uplifting Athletes,” he said. “The decathlon here on Wall Street raises money for a terrific cause, and that was something I wanted to be a part of.”

As an undergraduate at Penn State, Rubin pursued a double major in finance and public relations. And if it seems uncommon that a football player should choose such a demanding course of study — well, it’s really not, said Rubin.

“I think people choose Penn State to be challenged and push themselves,” said Rubin. “We had mandatory football study halls. We were constrained for time a bit, but we were always pushed to do well academically.”

Rubin said that he chose his two majors after talking with a number of Penn State alumni — including football program alums and some who worked on Wall Street. And that same alumni network helped encourage him to apply for the Smeal MBA Program.

“Because of the diversity and the breadth of the MBA Program,” said Rubin, “despite my concentration in finance I felt like I was prepared for everything.”

And this prepared him well for the challenges of Wall Street, he said.

“I work with people from all over the world and deal with global markets,” he said. “I have to know how everything connects — you can’t have tunnel vision in this job.”

It wasn’t just his curriculum that prepared him well for his career, though. Rubin said that it was the whole of his Penn State experience that gave him the tools and skills necessary for Wall Street success.

“Penn State prepared me for my career in every way — not just through coursework and knowledge but also the resources and networks,” he said. “Penn State has a tremendously valuable alumni network.”

Penn State alumnus Mark Rubin won the 2013 Wall Street Decathlon for the second year in a row. Credit: Wall Street DecathlonAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated September 10, 2013