David Marlow is a visionary Chief Executive and development economist who has worked in the public sector for over 25 years. 

He established Third Life Economics in late 2008 to pursue a more diverse portfolio career, and you can read the story of the birth of the company on our news and articles pages.

David’s expertise in leadership of large complex organisations, as a development strategist, in programme development and project delivery and, in change management - building organisational capacity and capability – are demonstrable and well-evidenced by his track record. 

Most recently, David was Chief Executive of the East of England Regional Development Agency (2003-2008), where he was instrumental in formulating the regional economic strategy (RES) for the East of England. David led the development of economic narratives for the “Greater South East”, the Thames Gateway and Regional Cities East as well as the RDA climate change ”smart growth” strategy. 

David headed the organisation through the development and delivery of its Corporate Plan providing assistance to over 100,000 businesses per annum, establishing 12 “enterprise hubs” supporting up to 5000 knowledge economy businesses, a major £100m community regeneration programme across 10 local authorities, and a capital investment portfolio including new university centres and town centre flagship developments.


He established purposeful relationships at up to the most senior levels with central and local government; large corporate/multinational businesses and business representative bodies; higher and further education; and  the whole range of stakeholders and partners instrumental in the future prosperity of the region.

He took many leadership roles. Examples include, leading the RDA network as “Chair of Chairs” Chief Executive in 2005/06; to developing the first comprehensive RDA/Arts Council “prospectus” that has delivered major developments in Aldeburgh, Luton Carnival Centre and a range of commitments to visual arts in Colchester, Dance in Ipswich, and the Opera House Production Campus and National Skills Academy at Thurrock. He also championed the recovery and redevelopment of Maylands and Hemel Hempstead in the aftermath of the Buncefield oil explosion; and chaired the Jaywick Steering Group that developed options for the future redevelopment of the most deprived community in the East of England. 

During his leadership, EEDA achieved all government spend and output targets over the 2004-2008 period - the first time in EEDA's history. 

From 2000 to 2003, David was Chief Executive of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, and the leading force behind changing the council from being ‘scandal ridden’ to being acknowledged as one of the fourth fastest improving local authorities in country.


He authored and championed the Borough’s innovative economic strategy - “3D”, Doncaster Development Direction - leading to the transformation and economic growth of the Borough. This secured over a £1billion investment programme, including Doncaster Sheffield (Finningley) Airport, Doncaster Education City, redevelopment of the Racecourse, a new community stadium and the city’s interchange/retail redevelopment in the heart of the “city centre”. Over the period since 2001, over 95% of this programme has been delivered with the new investments now open and achieving their goal to transform Doncaster into a major engine for growth and development in Yorkshire and the Humber. 

From 1996 to 2000, he was Executive Director at Southampton City Council, where he managed large capital investments such as the West Quay Shopping Centre and St Mary’s Stadium, as well as major maritime events that transformed the city. 

Other positions include:

  • Senior Institutional Development Advisor for DfID, establishing the UK development assistance programme to South Africa working with the Mandela government to deliver post-apartheid public service transformation;
  • Director of Customer Services at North Kesteven District Council;
  • Assistant Director (Consultancy) at Birmingham City Council;
  • Head of Economic Development for the Government of Montserrat;
  • Senior Policy Planner at Clwyd County Council; and
  • Economist for the Government of Belize. (ODI Fellow)

David graduated from Keble College, Oxford with a BA in PPE in 1980, followed by an MA in Development Economics from the University of East Anglia. In 1997, he completed his MBA qualification "with distinction" at the University of Sheffield. He is currently furthering his study, pursuing a creative studies course.

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