Helen Clark may not have fulfilled all her ambitions in her eight years at the United Nations Development Programme.

But when she leaves her post in April it will be with the satisfaction of knowing she made a difference and that she leaves it a better place than when she started.

It was not unexpected. She will have completed two four-year terms in April by the time she goes.

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She dragged the UNDP into the 21st century.

She introduced greater efficiencies and transparency into the development agency that spends $US 4 to 5 billion a year - a move that was naturally met with some resistance from within.

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And she embraced the digital age and social media with the vigour of a 26 year-old rather than a 66 year-old to let the world know about its work. She has 68,000 followers on Twitter and is active on Facebook and Instagram.

It was a great source of pride for her that the UNDP organisation was ranked No 1 for the past two years in the Aid Transparency Index

It was one of her strong suits in her bid to become Secretary General of the United Nations, but not strong enough.

The failure to get the top UN job was undoubtedly one of the greatest disappointments in her political career - the others being missing out on Cabinet in 1984 (she had to wait three years); missing out on leading Labour to power in 1996 (she had to wait another three year) and being voted out in 2008, after leading Labour in Government for nine years.

She was in the right place at the right time and in many ways was the right person. But her no-nonsense style of leadership was no match for the personal charms of the former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, to whom she has given her notice.

Clark announced her imminent departure today to staff at the UNDP.

It was not unexpected. She will have completed two four-year terms in April by the time she goes.

CORRECTION: Helen Clark has pointed out (on Twitter) he she actually has 143,900 followers on Twitter.