Rachel Smart trained as a designer through a foundation at Loughborough College of Art and a degree at Middlesex University. The degree sandwich year was spent working on a building site as a labourer. Upon graduating Rachel became practice manager at an established architectural practice where she set up administrative systems that led to quality assurance registration. She went on to become company secretary and director responsible for the management of practice strategy, marketing, human resources, quality assurance and financial management. While working, Rachel completed a distance learning MBA at Durham University Business School combining the reality of practice alongside academic learning before leaving to set up her management consultancy in 2000.

Since founding the practice Rachel has divided her time between many areas of design, whether working with designers themselves or the professional bodies that support them, and has continued her research through a PhD completed in 2008 at Birkbeck School of Management, University of London.