“A distinguished engineer not only leads; they also take responsibility. A distinguished engineer will not throw any of his or her team under the proverbial bus to protect themselves, nor will the make technical decisions that involve a massive pay back later (technical debt) without explaining why and getting buy in and understanding for the decision.”
His description fits the people AWS is currently hiring quite well. The company puts such a premium on independent groups working fast and making their own decisions it requires a particular skillset, which generally involves a great deal of field experience. A related trend is hiring seasoned marketing talent from the likes of IBM.