Huzefa Hakim: Shaping Future Leaders Through Life Skill Interventions

Huzefa Hakim
Huzefa Hakim

As individuals strive to stay abreast of an increasingly competitive market, the need for holistic personal and professional development becomes paramount. Recognizing this imperative, Huzefa Hakim pioneered an innovative approach to skill enhancement with Talk2Grow. As the Founder, he leads the forefront of this transformation.

Huzefa established Talk2Grow with a clear mission: to dismantle barriers through targeted interventions. While public speaking is a cornerstone, the company also emphasizes life skills, recognizing their broader importance. Skills like conflict resolution, decision-making, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability aren’t just for the workplace; they’re essential for navigating everyday challenges. Talk2Grow aims to impart these skills from a practical, real-life perspective, empowering individuals to excel in various situations.

Finding His Voice

During his school days, Huzefa Hakim always harbored a fear of impromptu speaking. However, he excelled when given the opportunity to prepare and deliver speeches. As he progressed in his career, he discovered his potential as a presenter and public speaker, learning to manage his stage fright effectively. Yet, he encountered challenges in managing relationships, expressing opinions assertively, and choosing his words mindfully.

Motivated by his own journey of overcoming weaknesses, Huzefa resolved to transform his struggles into strengths while aiding students and professionals in their personal and professional development journeys. Recognized for his adept listening skills by acquaintances and inner circle members, he found these skills invaluable in coaching individuals on communication and public speaking.

Empowering Futures

Huzefa and his team developed an extensive life skills program called PULSE (Proactively Undertaking Life Skills Expansion). Within this program, they introduced “Skill Bundles,” allowing organizations to customize packages based on their students’ or employees’ specific needs. These bundles encompass 20 sought-after skills across four categories, aiming to equip individuals with essential competencies for success in today’s dynamic market.

While pursuing his Master’s degree at Christ University in Bengaluru, Huzefa immersed himself in training students in a diverse array of academic, professional, and life skills. Throughout this journey, he encountered numerous students who demonstrated brilliance in their respective fields. However, during mock interviews, many struggled to confidently articulate their passions, goals, and reasons for choosing specific industries or companies for their careers.

One particular encounter during a university session deeply impacted Huzefa. A student questioned the relevance of learning public speaking, expressing satisfaction with communication within their inner circle and dismissing the importance of delivering presentations or giving TED talks in their field. This incident led Huzefa to realize a prevalent misconception among students regarding soft skills like public speaking, which he deemed essential rather than optional.

Personalized Pathways

During his tenure at Christ University, Huzefa was deeply involved with the Centre for Academic and Professional Support (CAPS). Over two years as a Group Peer Trainer, he played a pivotal role in delivering classroom sessions covering academic, job-specific, and life skills. From crafting resumes to honing interview techniques and mastering public speaking, Huzefa generously shared his expertise, impacting over 300 students.

His close engagement with the student community provided valuable insights into their mindset, enabling him to tailor training sessions to their specific needs and aspirations. Through his dedication and hands-on approach, Huzefa left a lasting imprint on the development and readiness of countless students for their academic and professional journeys.

Nurturing Professionally Sound Graduates

Huzefa’s experience at Christ University provided profound insights into the hurdles students encounter. While issues like under-confidence and poor communication skills are common, he understands they often signify deeper underlying issues. These roots may trace back to familial pressures dictating career choices, unclear objectives, or struggles with self-advocacy.

At Talk2Grow, Huzefa prioritizes addressing these fundamental causes rather than merely alleviating surface symptoms. Through tailored interventions, he endeavors to empower individuals to confront and conquer these challenges, fostering clarity, confidence, and assertiveness in their pursuit of personal and professional goals.

From Startup Vision to Venture Competition Dominance

The 2023 Entrepreneurship Bootcamp and Venture Competition proved to be a transformative experience for Talk2Grow. Organized by Startup India in partnership with the Schulich School of Business, Canada, the event was nothing short of surreal.

The competition kicked off with the submission of startup ideas, followed by the announcement of the top 100 startups nationwide. Advancing to the semi-finals, the top 20 teams received invaluable mentorship from industry experts.

Additionally, they had the opportunity to collaborate with student representatives from the Schulich School of Business to fine-tune their pitches for the finals. This collaborative effort not only enhanced the quality of the pitches but also provided a platform for budding entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative ideas on a national stage.

Talk2Grow was thrilled to advance to the semi-finals, securing a coveted spot among the Top 20 startups nationwide. The subsequent four-week mentorship period proved invaluable, fostering invaluable connections within the Edtech industry. Moreover, engaging with student representatives from the Schulich School of Business offered fresh perspectives on the venture.

From this enriching experience, Talk2Grow gleaned several key insights:

  • The significance of not only addressing a pressing need but also considering the scalability of the solution when seeking to monetize it.
  • Recognizing that an investor pitch and a customer pitch are distinct entities. Tailoring each pitch to resonate with the respective stakeholder is crucial for success.

An Innovative Story-concept-Case Strategy

Talk2Grow adopts the Story-Concept-Case strategy in its interventions to ensure impactful learning experiences. Beginning with a captivating story that ends on a cliff-hanger, the team stimulates audience engagement and curiosity. This sets the stage for active participation and learning. Next, the core concept is explored through interactive activities and role plays, facilitating comprehension and retention.

Following the concept exploration, Talk2Grow reinforces learning with relevant case studies. These real-world applications allow participants to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills, enhancing practical understanding. This structured approach maximizes engagement and fosters meaningful learning experiences.

While the technique may vary across interventions, the strategy remains consistent. For students, Talk2Grow focuses on creating workplace and family simulations, along with role plays, to equip them with the skills needed to navigate various daily-life scenarios with confidence and patience.

Tailored Solutions through Active Listening

Talk2Grow initiates its projects with a discovery call designed to deeply understand the client’s background and needs. During this phase, the team employs a coaching approach, asking a series of both predetermined and tailored questions to gain insights into the client’s challenges and objectives.

Following the discovery call, Talk2Grow crafts a proposal outlining a customized training plan that addresses the client’s specific requirements. This proposal undergoes a thorough discussion to accommodate any necessary changes or additional information, ensuring alignment between the client’s expectations and the proposed solution.

A key strategy employed by Talk2Grow is active listening before presenting any proposals, enabling the team to gain a comprehensive understanding of the client’s needs. The use of Skill Bundles facilitates clear communication of the services offered, aiding clients in understanding the scope of engagement and providing opportunities for clarification and further insights.

Many of the mental models shared in Talk2Grow’s workshops are inspired by the books Huzefa reads on communication, relationship building, and other relevant topics. Once these concepts are understood, the team endeavors to customize them for audiences of all ages, from 5-year-olds to 50-year-olds, requiring dedicated effort. Talk2Grow is committed to mastering this effort to ensure maximum impact and relevance across diverse audiences.

Unique Approach to Life Skills Education

Talk2Grow distinguishes itself through its unique content and methodology. While its curriculum covers familiar topics, it’s the innovative approach to applying skills like conflict management, adaptability, personal branding, and active listening in everyday life that resonates with audiences.

Talk2Grow takes pride in the fact that despite not focusing on STEM subjects, its life skills program, PULSE, holds accreditation from This reflects the organization’s commitment to broadening the concept of STEM education and highlighting the importance of life skills. By emphasizing the balance between technical knowledge and practical life skills, Talk2Grow aims to cultivate healthier work environments and produce professionally competent graduates.

Shaping Tomorrow’s Communicators

Talk2Grow recognizes that having a unique selling proposition (USP) isn’t enough in today’s competitive landscape. The organization acknowledges the importance of adapting to the target market, which poses challenges in a saturated and fragmented industry.

Huzefa’s vision is to continually evolve methodologies and revamp offerings to stay ahead in the market. In the long term, Talk2Grow aims to become a leading brand that empowers individuals to express themselves effectively in diverse contexts. The organization envisions leveraging technology-driven interventions to create a platform that merges human intelligence with generative AI, enhancing individuals’ skill-based abilities.

This initiative seeks to introduce metrics like the Communication Quotient (CQ) and Problem-Solving Quotient (PSQ) from an early stage, akin to IQ and EQ, to nurture 21st-century skills development from schooling through to the professional realm. Talk2Grow plans to validate these efforts through accreditations from reputable organizations, advocating for the integration of life skills development as a core element of education and workplace culture.

From Fear to Fluency: A Success Story

Huzefa hosted a 4-week workshop in 2021 focused on effective communication. Among the participants was a colleague from the same company. Following the workshop’s conclusion, he found himself frequently interacting with this individual as they collaborated on various projects.

Over the span of the subsequent two years, Huzefa witnessed remarkable growth in his colleague’s communication skills. Once plagued by fears discussed during the workshop, he now confidently initiates conversations with team members and excels at networking events, effortlessly engaging with clients and stakeholders. As a senior member of the company, his newfound communication prowess has become a notable asset in his professional repertoire.