Leslie W. Smith was born in 1936. He worked as a Junior Clerk at Grangemouth before becoming a Traffic Apprentice in Scotland from 1952 to 1958. He then held front-line marketing and sales posts in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. He then moved to British Railways Headquarters to work in freight marketing posts from 1972 to 1988. In 1989 he was appointed Deputy Director Freight, staying in this role until 1992. He then joined Trainload Freight as Managing Director, staying this role from 1992 to 1994.