Perhaps the greatest rivalry on Wall Street is the one between the investment bankers and the traders. This rivalry gets especially competitive during bonus season.
Goldman Sachs decided to raise the stakes in this epic battle, and for the past month, Goldman Sachs traders and bankers have been squaring off in a new firm-wide fitness challenge.
The traders came out victorious.
Goldman’s inaugural “Team Fitness Challenge” was hosted by Goldman Sachs’ Veterans Network, which is an internal employee affinity network focused on recruitment, mentorship and career development of veterans at the firm.
Goldman Sachs associate Michael Hanna, who served in the US Army and organised the challenge, said that in the military there were always competitions between squads and units. These competitions, he explained, helped build morale and cohesion.
“We felt like it would be a good idea to do a competition between the divisions to build that espirit de corps.”
The competition, which began in November in honour of Veterans’ month, let bankers and traders go head-to-head in a series of events, including rowing 5,000 meters and biking at max effort for 30 minutes inside the Goldman Sachs gym.
Those who participated had to post photos of their results from the rowing and biking. One even shared a photo of bloodied hands from the erg.
The challenge ended on Monday with a 5K race at 7:30 a.m. along the the Hudson River.
There were rules, of course. The teams from each division had to be co-ed and they had to represent three age categories 20-34, 35-44, and 45 and up.
“It’s also fun to put the other divisions in their place,” Owen West, 45, a Goldman partner and captain of the Securities Division team, told us after finishing his 5K run in 17:49.
“There’s a very healthy rivalry. We wanted to test two theories today — Whether a sound body equals a sound mind? And can a banker wake up at 7? We proved both concepts. Yes and no.”
Traders and bankers are completely different cultures. Traders are at their desks by 7 a.m., while investment bankers tend to stay up late working on deals and socializing with clients.
The Securities Division team was stacked with athletes. There were two former Princeton runners — Peter Bartlett and Sarah Cummings, who are both elite marathoners.
Cummings, who runs 100 miles per week while working full-time for Goldman, may try out for the Olympic marathon team. The traders’ team also had Brian Kuritzky, a former Cornell soccer player who was the fastest Wall Streeter in the 2012 Empire State Building Run.
West was no slouch before he got to the Marin Corps either. Before serving, he rowed for Harvard and he has raced 400 miles across Borneo. His efforts garnered him the title “most badass” on Wall Street from Business Insider’s Linette Lopez.
Peter Bartlett was the top male finisher. The top female was Paige Madden, a former Cornell rower.
On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein presented the Bronze Boot trophy — a bronzed combat boot that has completed three tours in Iraq.
“I would have participated, but since I knew I would be giving out the award, I felt there would be a conflict,” Blankfein joked.
Blankfein also asked where the other divisions were during the ceremony on the 43rd floor of Goldman’s 200 West headquarters.
“Where are they? Are they represented here at the awards ceremony?” Blankfein asked.
“Well, no, they lost.” West said.
Maybe next year.
Until then, the trophy will remain on the trading floor.
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