Progressive Building Society CEO Darina Armstrong named one of this year’s Women to Watch

Belfast businesswoman, Darina Armstrong, has been named a ‘woman to watch’ in the annual list compiled by Cranfield School of Management.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 1:00 pm

Born in Dungannon, Darina was appointed CEO of Progressive Building Society in 2010 and has built on the Society’s strong foundations.

Launched alongside the Female FTSE Board Report, which provides an annual analysis of women on the boards of FTSE 350 companies, the Women to Watch 2021 is intended to shine a light on the impressive talent pool of women in business and offer a snapshot of some of those considered potential board members of the future.

The list spotlights 100 UK leading female professionals, who the authors believe are ideally suited for consideration as non-executive directors (NEDs) on the boards of FTSE 350 companies now or in the near future.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

CEO of Progressive Building Society, Darina Armstrong from Belfast

Progressive Building Society has been providing mortgage and savings services to the people of Northern Ireland for over 100 years and is the only locally owned financial institution.

Darina said: “I am honoured to be named one of this year’s Women to Watch by Cranfield School of Management. Throughout my career with Progressive Building Society, and since becoming CEO over 10 years ago, I have firmly believed that diversity of gender, race, culture and background in leadership teams strengthens and enriches them.

“The success of Progressive Building Society is down to the people who work here, and I am committed to creating a working environment that brings the best out of people by encouraging them to enjoy a challenge and providing an inclusive space for them to thrive. I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Northern Ireland and the staff that work so hard here.”

The Women to Watch supplement was introduced by Cranfield University’s Gender, Leadership and Inclusion Centre in 2009.

Hilary Sears, Visiting Fellow of Cranfield School of Management and author of the 2021 report, explained: “Diversity in all its forms is increasingly on the agenda for forward-thinking businesses, and rightly so. As well as providing appropriate representation for an increasingly diverse workforce, it has been found that more diverse boards make better decisions.

“The challenge, though, is how in-demand diverse executives now are: where to find them, how to recruit them, how to retain them? Through this year’s Female FTSE Board Report and Women to Watch list, we hope to accelerate companies on their journey to better representation and a truly inclusive workplace.”

Cranfield University’s Female FTSE Board Report, launched recently reveals that, whilst the number of women on FTSE 100 and 250 boards continues to rise, there remains considerable variance between companies, with the overall figures boosted by the efforts of several leading firms.

Women continue to attain less senior board positions and serve for less time than their male peers, prompting renewed questions about how businesses can draw through their top female talent.

This year’s report spotlights the role of the Chair in the future appointment and development of female NEDs, and in the appointment of the CEO and the executive team, and provides a separate list of potential women Chairs for consideration by FTSE 100 boards. At present, only 14% of Chair roles across the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 are held by women.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper whenever you are able to do so.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper when you can safely.

You can also enjoy unlimited access to the best news from across Northern Ireland and the UK by subscribing to

With a digital subscription, you can read more than five articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit now to sign up.

Thank you