Meet Zulkiflee Mawan: From Banker to Baker Extraordinaire


Noor Aishah Karim •  Aug 24, 2023

Exploring the Remarkable Journey of an Ex-Banker Turned Visionary Cake Artisan

In culinary entrepreneurship, some tales stand out – stories of individuals who dared to get off the corporate path to follow their true passions. One such remarkable journey is that of Zulkiflee Mawan, the visionary behind Banker2baker, an innovative cake boutique that has taken the cake scene by storm.

A Banker's Odyssey: The Path to Entrepreneurial Pursuits

Credit: Zulkiflee Mawan

Before donning the apron and creating confectionery masterpieces, Zulkiflee Mawan spent a solid quarter-century as a dedicated banker at Bank Negara Malaysia. However, at the age of 50, the allure of the corporate world began to wane, and he set out on an audacious path to entrepreneurial success.

Global Pursuit of Pastry Mastery: Learning from the Best

Credit: Zulkiflee Mawan

Zul's transition from banker to baker was not merely a leap; it was an odyssey of self-discovery, relentless learning, and boundless determination.

“I realised that at 50 learning a new skill was going to be a bit of a task, therefore I needed to learn quickly and from the best in order to be there,” says Zul.

He embarked on a global quest for knowledge in cake artistry, enrolling in esteemed institutions like Le Cordon Bleu and Le Notre in Paris, as well as the International Centre of Cake Artistry in Kuala Lumpur. His pursuit was driven by an innate desire to catch up, improve rapidly, and find mentors who could fuel his growth. From Singapore to Paris and even Tokyo, he crisscrossed the globe, soaking in the wisdom of renowned cake artisans.

Retirement Reimagined: From Banking to Baking

Credit: Zulkiflee Mawan

Zul's journey was not without its unique twists. Following his early retirement, he accompanied his wife to Wales during her pursuit of a doctorate degree, taking an unpaid leave from his banking position.

“I took a career break, for around 3 years when I accompanied my wife, and I couldn't go back to the corporate world after the work I’ve done in Wales and that’s when I decided to do a business,”

These three years became a pivotal turning point, shifting his perspective and creating the desire for a new challenge. Baking was not initially on his radar, but as he immersed himself in the world of cakes, he discovered a hidden passion that ignited his entrepreneurial spirit.

Crafting a Sweet Transformation: From Novice to Niche Expert

Eight years ago, Zul recognized the burgeoning potential of online businesses, particularly the thriving home-based cake industry. Not only did this avenue require a relatively modest capital investment, but it also allowed him to flex his creative muscles from the comfort of his own kitchen. His first cake decorating class saw him teaming up with his sister, who baked while he crafted intricate designs.

“I remember my first cake class was on decorating, so I asked my sister if she could help to bake the cake, while I decorate the cake. I then brought the cake to the office for my colleagues to try,” said Zul.

The feedback was mixed – the cake was visually stunning but lacked the flavors to match. This moment ignited a fervour to learn the art of baking.

Mastering the Flour and Sugar Alchemy: Zul's Signature Sugar Flowers

His determination bore fruit, as he honed his skills in sugar flower crafting, specializing in egg white and icing sugar creations. This expertise provided him with a unique niche, eliminating the risk associated with real flowers and offering clients an array of choices. Initially focusing on birthday cakes, Zul soon realized the market's saturation and pivoted towards wedding cakes. This strategic shift marked the turning point, and his business began to flourish.

Culinary Dreams Unveiled: From London to Paris and Beyond

Zul's vision extended beyond his own aspirations. He envisioned a cake boutique that spanned cities, with London, Paris, and New York as his main sources of inspiration. Today, his dream has been partially reached, with a presence in London and future plans to conquer Paris. His family has rallied around his vision, with his sister and son actively managing the London store.

Passing the Torch: Legacy and Future Aspirations

But Zul's ambitions don't stop at cakes. He plans to expand his reach through workshops, sharing his knowledge and igniting creativity in others. Banker2baker's name is emblematic of his journey, resonating with his niece, an ex-banker herself, who joined him in his venture.

“Ever since, I was young, I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher, and I think this is something I would like to venture into!”

Words of Wisdom: From Banker to Baker

For aspiring entrepreneurs, Zul's advice is resolute. He emphasizes the importance of hard work, unwavering passion, and the pursuit of knowledge. The ethos of constant improvement is woven into the fabric of Banker2baker, as they regularly update their cake offerings, signaling their commitment to excellence.

A Halal Haven: Serving the Community with Passion

As he stands at the threshold of 59 going to 60, Zulkiflee Mawan's journey is an embodiment of resilience, reinvention, and the pursuit of passion. His business not only caters to a sweet tooth but also provides a halal option for Muslim communities, a motivation that fuels his dedication. Zul's story reminds us that age is merely a number, and it's never too late to chase one's dreams – even if it means trading a banker's suit for a baker's apron.