Life on the antivirus frontline

CA's Dr Eugene Dozortsev talks about the motivations and satisfactions that spur him through 70-hour working weeks offering very little limelight

"This is the upside of 70-hour weeks," said Dr Eugene Dozortsev, as we shared a cheese platter and a stunning chocolate concoction over lunch at the Yering Station Winery in Victoria's Yarra Valley. I could see his point. The restaurant, with one wall totally windowed, overlooked the rolling green glade of one of the Valley's finest wineries. The view was accompanied by a first-class lunch, following a stint of wine tasting at the cellar door.

During lunch, Dozortsev, a Russian immigrant who arrived in Melbourne about 11 years ago, put his role as the head of R&D at Computer Associate's (CA) Melbourne-based research labs into perspective for me, which explained why the view, wine and food were such a pleasure to digest.

Dozortsev will have completed about three hours worth of emailing and conference calls with the US from home by the time he gets to work at 9am. The Melbourne research arm undertakes about a quarter of CA's international R&D effort in the security field.

"We have 80 people working on eight multiple projects," he tells me, adding that meetings regarding these are the mainstay of his day. At 6.30pm he's home with the family for a couple of hours before a bout of conference calls and emailing with CA's European team, which can take him up to midnight. "Sometimes (once or twice a week) I have to be present at the global conference calls, which unfortunately for our time zone start at around 1a.m."

He has made four overseas trips so far this year -- the first to Singapore, to attend a PKI Forum meeting. "CA is one of the principle members of the PKI Forum and I get to represent CA there," Dozortsev explained. "The Forum is intended to resolve the interoperability issues between multiple PKI vendors."

His second trip of 2002, he says, was a long one. "We visited customers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, Boston and Orlando in one week. Then we stayed in Orlando for a week for the CA World conference and exhibition... Then we flew to Paris and Stockholm and visited customers over there. The final leg of the trip was a week in Tel Aviv to visit our development labs there and also to meet with customers."

In May he travelled to the Gold Coast to speak at the AusCERT conference, and he has since been to San Diego and New York.

When asked about his background in Russia, Dozortsev tells me with a straight face that he was a rocket scientist, and it's not far from the truth. He studied at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology full-time for six years, from the early age of 16. After this, he went to work for the Central Aero-Hydrodynamics Institute, a world-renowned research facility in the area of aerospace research. During this time he completed a PhD -- mainly in the area of applied mathematics and computing methods with regards to aerospace research.

Dozortsev and his 22-year-old wife and young daughter left their homeland behind them on December 31, 1991.

His first role in Australia was with Collaborative Collaborative Information Technology Research Institute (CITRI) -- a joint venture between RMIT and Melbourne University. "It was culture shock of course, " he tells me. It was also a short-term contract of three months, after which he went on to work as a senior computer scientist for a small Australian company called Preston Group -- now a division of Boeing. Dozortsev stayed there for almost three years. Since then, he's worked for Kodak, and as a development manager with Cybec Vet Anti-Virus, which was acquired by CA in 1999.

Of his profession he says: "We have a very important role. We often compare what we do with what biologists/medics do with biological viruses. The same rules apply. When we help people it is a great satisfaction by itself. It is one of the biggest job motivations." But, he admits, "it's a lot of work, a lot of effort and very little limelight".

"I travel a lot, and for a change would like to stay close to home," he says, when asked what his ultimate holiday destination would be. "I don't have much free time. But I always try to spend time with my family when I can. We do some four-wheel driving in the mountains, I fly the kites with my daughters on the beach. In summer time we drive to the Dandenongs or to Redhill to pick some blueberries and cherries.

And home, he says firmly, is Australia.

"Australia is my home country now. I work hard, but I know exactly why I am doing this. My efforts are not wasted -- people need my skills, I bring value to my country -- and of course to my family as well."

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