Mladen Ivanic was born in Sanski Most in 1958. He graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Banja Luka in 1981, and received his PhD in 1988 from the Faculty of Economics at the University of Belgrade. He completed his postdoctoral studies at the universities of Menheim and Glasgow. From 1981 to 1985 he worked as a journalist in Banja Luka, and since 1989 he has taught at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Banja Luka. He was also a professor at the universities of Sarajevo and East Sarajevo.
He began his political career in 1988, becoming a Member of the Presidency of the SFRY, and remained there until 1991.
He founded the Party of Democratic Progress of Republic of Srpska in 1999 and has been its president for 16 years, while since 2015 he has been the party's Honorary President.
He was the Prime Minister of the Republic of Srpska from 2001 until 2003, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of B&H from 2003 until 2007.
He served as a Member of Parliament of B&H from 2007 until 2014. At the 2014 general election, he was elected as a Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and remained in office until 2018.
He was the 15th Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, being the head of state from 17 November 2014 until 17 July 2015 and again from 17 November 2016 until 17 July 2017.