"I'm always taking charge of events, even in my personal life," says Pamela Ryan. Her personality has propelled her up the corporate ladder: At 27, she is a one-woman department in charge of planning 35 meetings a year for CCH Legal Information Services, a New York Citybased legal software publishing company.

Before Ryan joined the company in 1995, presidents' secretaries were organizing meetings. "Now, I work for all executives and all departments to a degree, including our parent company in Amsterdam," she explains. She also plans dinners and other special events.

This summer, Ryan organized two back-to-back territorial business review meetings in Phoenix for top executives. "I had a verbal agreement from a hotel for meeting- and sleeping-room space for both week-long August meetings," she says. "But then a day before I was leaving for a mid-July business trip, the property informed me that meeting rooms were not available for the second week. So I basically had 24 hours to find a new property."

She was able to locate another hotel, but she learned a valuable lesson. "Contracts should be written and signed in stone. I had the new property fax me a letter of agreement right away."

After the Phoenix meetings were over, Ryan took a personal vacation on Florida's Marco Island. "When I'm on my own vacation, I want to go someplace secluded. All I need is a beach, a book, and a baseball cap," she says. "And I want no part of planning. A friend organized the whole Florida trip for me, down to the airline reservations!"