First-time Microsoft MVP Andrey Baludin sometimes thinks of an old joke to   describe the integration work he does every day as an IT solutions architect at the  Awara IT Solutions  offices in St. Petersburg, Russia.

What do you get if you cross a hedgehog and a snake? You get five feet of barbed wire.

"Normally I am responsible for NAV integrations with other systems – external accounting, billing, web shops, third-party operators, bank systems, SFTP servers, external APIs," he says. "I prepared demos of integrations with FIFA API – to get Football World Cup 2018 results in [Microsoft Dynamics 365] Business Central, integration with Arduino controller and more. Just for fun – to show how flexible Business Central is."

From process engineer to NAV user

Baludin, who received his award on Feb. 1, started his career at Awara IT three years ago as a senior developer. From his very first day on the job, Baludin says he was responsible for implementing tasks that had never been implemented in the past.

"I was lucky enough to have time for learning and research," he says. "It is still hard to believe that some truly crazy ideas became real. I've learned more in this last three years at Awara IT than in the eight years I was working [for a customer]."

Over the years at Awara IT, Baludin has devoted time to learning more about Azure services and Azure administration. The combination of these skills allows him to calculate the necessary resources, deploy the infrastructure, and start planning and implementing the solution for customers.

Baludin was introduced to Dynamics NAV in 2008, while he was working as a process engineer at a security systems manufacturing company.

"This was after graduating from Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University," he says. "[Processing engineering] was my major, but I also had programming skills. At that time, my  employer company started implementing NAV 5.0. I was a key user for the manufacturing module."

After several months Baludin was asked to join the project team, teaching users how to work with Dynamics NAV and assisting them with all NAV-related issues.

"Obviously, in a couple of years this became boring for me because the internal customer's operations with NAV were quite standardized and were not changing much," he says.

Switching careers

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