Springfield, MO

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2022 40 Under 40 Spotlight: Steve Edwards, 1999

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Then: Senior vice president, CoxHealth
Now: President/CEO, CoxHealth

Steve Edwards is in his final months at the helm of CoxHealth. Over the past 30 years, he’s seen the health system grow from a few thousand employees to the largest local employer and from hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue to now nearly $2 billion.

Edwards, 56, says he views his work as an extension of his father Charlie’s legacy. An Edwards has been in leadership at CoxHealth since 1965.

Early retirement always has been part of the plan. Edwards says his goal was at age 55, but then came the grueling COVID-19 pandemic. He wasn’t going to leave his team in crisis. Come June, Edwards will stay on as a leadership adviser at CoxHealth, but his primary focus will be adventuring outdoors and making up for lost time with his family.

As a 40 Under 40 honoree, Edwards quoted Winston Churchill as inspiration for his leadership philosophy, emulating heroes and finding joy in work.

“We’ve been through some real trials, but amazingly we still laugh,” he says. “That management style has served me well.”

Best advice to young professionals? There are times where, as leaders, we might find ourselves more worried about keeping our job than doing our job. Live well below your means and put money in the bank so that you can be afforded to make courageous or difficult decisions.


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